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Ryan’s eyes lit up. So, did Tannenbaum’s. Owner Woody Johnson was totally on board, too, and so was Sparano.

A few days later, Tebow was a member of the Jets as a backup QB, not THE QB. Not after the team had just signed Sanchez to a contract extension. Rather, Tebow was heading East to be a versatile threat on the field, and a marketing touchdown with ticket and jersey sales. Maybe not quite the next Joe Namath, but pretty darned close.

Which brings us to the current situation _ a .500 team with a quarterback having trouble hitting a target and a team riddled with injuries, including star cornerback Darrelle Revis _ the Jets‘ best defensive player _ and wide receiver Santonio Holmes _ their biggest offensive playmaker. Both are out for the rest of the season.

“I just know in my heart, right now, that this is not the time,” a defiant Ryan said of making a quarterback change. “I think Tim is an outstanding player, and I think Mark is. Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win.”

So, yes, the team is fully invested in him. Sanchez is guaranteed $20.5 million over this year and next. Switching quarterbacks now likely would devastate him mentally, a dangerous proposition especially if Tebow was equally disappointing. That would leave the team with two disgruntled quarterbacks and few other options.

Some players won’t even consider the possibility of a swap.

Mark is our quarterback,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “We believe in him and the team will rally around him. It’s not all his fault.”

Ryan and his coaching staff took two days to huddle with each other to figure out what the problems are, and to hit the field Wednesday armed with answers.

More playing time for Tebow should be among them. That doesn’t mean Sanchez will be benched. In Sparano, the Jets have an offensive coordinator who knows how to use the wildcat effectively, as he did for a few years as the head coach with the Dolphins.

“This is a resilient football team,” Ryan said. “Woe is me? How many people are going to feel sorry for the New York Jets? I know the answer to that: nobody.”

New York’s run-first approach has flopped so far, but Tebow is a 250-pound mountain of muscle who can help. He can line up next to Sanchez for a few series at a time. That would force defenses to be on their toes, uncertain if Tebow will run the ball or throw it _ or if Sanchez will.

“We haven’t been as successful at running the wildcat as I thought we would,” Ryan said. “I think that’s fair to say, but again, without question, I’m not ready to give up on him. I think the wildcat is tough to defend and I’ve always said that.”

It’s on the Jets’ coaching staff to see what they’ve really got with Tebow.

Is he purely a publicity stunt, as some have speculated since the day he arrived? Or, is Tebow the guy who can help save the Jets’ season _ just as he did in Denver?

“I’m ready to do whatever they ask me to do,” Tebow said. “That’s my mentality, and that’s the way it has been since I got here.”

Story Continues →